Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hunters Moon: from beyond the grave

The last few posts have turned into something of a Hunters Moon special. Although the Hunters Moon festival ostensibly shuffled off into that great Altamont Speedway in the sky two years ago, the Hunters Moon name still shows up now and then as a promoter of concert of events. Because I broadly approve of the Hunters Moon people I will basically go to anything they put on unless I am dying of bubonic plague or they are hosting an event in an inconvenient location. So it was that I found myself heading to a place called the Steambox Gallery with two of my associates.

Actually, as locations go the Steambox is pretty inconvenient. It is not too far from where I live but is in that part of town that has "Here Be Monsters" written on it in my mental map, by which I mean it is off Meath Street in the Liberties, a heart of the rowl Dublin location that soft types like me never go to and think of as being a bit terrifying. Walking there with my associates somewhat calmed my sense of terror, as they are both tough characters and I knew that in their company I would be safe from all but the roughest of Dublin gurriers. Also it turns out that one of my associates (let us call him Mr A) actually lives very near the venue, meaning that he is local to that part of town and someone likely to be treated with great respect. Even so it was with some trepidation that I walked through streets whose pavements have never before been touched by my feet.

The Steambox Gallery is some kind of hipster arts venue in what seems like a converted school or somesuch. It has a squatty ambience and felt like the kind of place where you would have to knock three times on the door and say the special password before you would be let in. In our case the door was open and there were no such formalities. The building is big inside and felt like it had been converted from some former purpose, with the concert being in some random bit of it, in this case what felt like it could have been a shed or a lean-to stuck on at the back.

There were a number of artists on the bill, all broadly of the avant garde art nonsense variety. God Hates Disco opened proceedings, combining funny electronic music with film and sound of people ranting about culty religious or psychedelic stuff. Then Three Eyed Makara hit things they had in piles on the floor. Fuzzy Hell worried Mr A by looking like they were going to be a solo woman singing and playing acoustic guitar (not that he is sexist as he would have been equally aghast if it had been a man doing the same thing) but she turned out to be doing electronic stuff as well as the guitarring. I thought it was more interesting than straightforward singer-songwritery material, but Mr A was not having any of it.

The last act was Head of Wantastiquet, who featured one Paul LaBrecque from well-known act Sunburned Hand of the Man. They turned out to be another act of which Mr A strongly disapproves so he left before they started, with the fact that his bed was just round the corner being a big draw for him (there was a another push factor of which I will speak later). I stayed for a bit longer, even though I was getting a bit puppy tired myself. I probably would have gone earlier if I had not found a nice comfy seat to plant myself on while watching Mr Wantastiquet do his thing. His thing turned out to be more droney electronic guitar stuff. I found the second of his long pieces quite engaging but I was getting really tired now so I made my way home.

The event had one feature which contributed to both Mr A and myself heading off early: smokers. As you know, in Ireland due to facism we have banned smoking from places of work or entertainment. In this place however the kids decided that they were going to stick it to the man by lighting up their death sticks. At first this lended the event a certain edginess, accentuating the squattiness of the venue and giving the sense that we were now operating outside the normal rules of bourgeois society. After a while though it all got a bit stinky and my eyes started to sting, reminding me of how rubbish things were before the smoking ban came in. So I scarpered.

Leaving was surprisingly difficult. I just about remembered how to travel through the large building to the entrance but the exit door was now closed and locked. Eventually I managed to work out how to open it but it was a close run thing and I was distinctly fearful that I would be dragged back into the smokatorium and forced to inhale the foul nicotine infused burning herbs until I became one with tobacco addicts.

Outside I was conscious that I no longer had either of my associates to protect me so I made my way out of the Forbidden Zone as quickly as I could. I did my best not to let the natives realise that I was not of their kind, trying to lurk as much as possible in the shadows without drawing attention to myself. The fact that you are reading these words should tell you that I succeeded in making my way home. Or that someone else did who has now assumed the identity that was once "mine".

Afterwards I was struck by one odd thing about the evening. There were quite a lot of people at the event, and it suddenly hit me that there were probably far more people at it than had ever paid to go to an actual Hunters Moon festival. Another odd fact that was pointed out to me on social media was that all the young stinky smokers who were delighting in the cigaretting were all probably too young to properly remember a time before the smoking ban. To them the idea of smoking indoors while music played may have been a genuinely exciting novelty.

image source (Heathen Harvest)

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